The Many Saints of Newark review 10/1/21 A Sopranos story

Nostalgia…the most weaponized feeling that movie companies use to lure us in by to getting you to pay $15 and then for overpriced and under quality food items. Although TERRIBLE for you to eat, AMC’s pretzel bites in chemical created nacho cheese are a thing of beauty that a white trash Michaelangelo would marvel upon this with a look of bemusement and jealousy that he didn’t create it. And when we all read that they were doing a Sopranos prequel, that sent MAJOR shivers up our collective buttholes. And when we saw Michael Gandolfini was playing a young Tony, we gave a collective eyebrow arch but said, “let’s see what the kid has” to reserve judgement upon viewing. The first preview was pretty cool and if seeing Vera Farmiga do a fantastic Livia Soprano didn’t move the needle for you, you weren’t really a true Sopranos fan. Not many films are circled on my calendar this year but this along with Bond, Halloween, Spiderman, and Jackass (goddamn you, Paramount…moving that to February as well as Mission Impossible and Top Gun to next year.) Fast forward to yesterday where my wife DEMANDED that I wait to watch this with her. So we began the story of Dickie Multisanti (Christopher’s dad and Michael Imperioli does narrate in the film) and his family. It takes place during the race riots of Newark which used to be predominantly Italian. Dickie is a mid level criminal whose father (Ray Liotta) runs crime in said town while his young nephew, Tony Soprano, hangs on his every word and action. We see a lot of the old gang: Lydia Soprano (Vera Farmiga KILLS this role), Junior (Corey Stoll doing a solid job and with a callback catchphrase that will make you smile) Big Pussy, Silvio, Paulie Walnuts (but not enough for my liking), even Carmela and a baby Christopher.

The biggest problem is the plot; a lot of it are a collection of “who gives a shit scenes.” We were led to believe the riots were a focal point but they are not and that’s too bad. I truly wanted to learn more about them but they were just an afterthought with little impact. Another problem is you get tastes of the characters we all love but this is truly Dickie Multisanti’s story (Alessandro Nivola). I’ll wager the other fans wanted to see more intermingling with Silvio, Paulie, Jackie Aprielle, Hesh, Pussy, etc. Vera Farmiga had a couple of solid scenes with Tony including but again, we all wanted to see more and how she mentally fucks up Tony that forces him to see Dr. Melfie. One of the most impactful scenes is where Livia meets with Tony’s guidance counselor where learn more about Tony’s wiring as well as his feelings for his mother. So what else do we get? Ray Liotta playing Dickie’s dad, Hollywood Dickie. And through the oddest turn of events, we find out that Hollywood had a twin brother. Yeah, I was shaking my head in a slow, WTF fashion.

This story draaaaaags. A. LOT. I just didn’t care about a lot of the goings on. Leslie Odom plays a numbers runner for Dickie and sets up a for a possible confrontation down the road for a Black mafia/Italian mafia showdown. But the scenes he had as well as some of the black mafia stuff had me saying, “who gives a shit?” Wayyy too much time spent on something that I felt was inconsequential to the story at hand. We didn’t get enough of Johnny Boy Soprano (Tony’s dad) as he went to jail in the film but think it would’ve been more fun to see him in the family dynamic. And the guy who played Silvio, awful. I mean, bottom shelf well vodka AWFUL. I feet the scenes where Tony does bad stuff were disingenuous, like it was being forced. What else is awful? Dickie kills someone and sets his body on fire that looked about as real as special effects in the 1994 Fantastic Four movie. Go give that a googs; it redefines the meaning for “awful.” It looked as real as Robert DeNiro curb stomping that guy in the Irishman with the speed of a 3 toed sloth. SPOILER ALERT: Dickie gets killed and the motive is quite opaque. Was it because of a personal offense, was it for a power struggle? Another cliff hanger by David Chase, put it on the boarrrrd, YES! And a lot of the foreshadowing is as subtle as a kick to the nuts. Yes, Tony visits Holsten’s (where he gets shot) in the final episode several times. No, they don’t play the Journey song as that obviously wouldn’t have fit the timeframe when the song came out vs where we were in the movie. You get a couple of quotes from the show that will make you smile as I said before but they were repeated often enough which must have made the audience say, “we get it, you’re nodding to the show.”

I’d love to hear from non-Sopranos fans thoughts are on this as a pair of completely neutral eyes would have a much more interesting take. And when you watch this film, tell me that this sound mix is wayyyyy off. When they play music, it BLASTED through the speakers. When it’s just dialogue, you have to pump up the volume 7 notches. In summary, this really felt hastily thrown together. Vera Farmiga steals the show, Alessandro Nivola is solid, Michael Gandolfini is ok, and Corey Stoll was good. I was really disappointed as was my wife. And from what I’ve seen on my social media timeline, the people HATED this film. Just 2 people defended this film and the critics have their heads up their asses on this one as well, 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. You’re going to want to watch this film out of curiosity and I don’t blame you. But I’d set me expectations lower than a fallen G-string at the Bada Bing.

4/10

Film reviews: “Arrival”, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”, and “Jason Bourne”

The main 2 rules of gambling are: 1) Go with your gut and 2) Don’t be a hero, just win money. 

arrivalposterToday’s reviews are going to focus on rule 1.  When I saw the preview for “Arrival,” I said aloud, “Who gives a shit?  This is Jodie Foster’s Contact 2.0.”  And the reviews started to come in: Rotten Tomatoes loved it, some of my friends loved it, Amy Adams is going to win the Academy Award….you get the idea.  I figured since I was wrong about “Dr. Strange,” I decided to give it a go.  

So I did give it a shot.  I even saw it in the theater as other reviewers said you MUST see it in its purest form.  Amy Adams plays a master linguist who is called to service and communicate when alien spaceships land in many different countries.  Forest Whittaker and his lazy eye play an Army officer who recruits her for the position.  Tiny Jeremy Renner plays a scientist that goes with Adams to facilitate the communication betweens the aliens and Adams. And director Denis Villeneuve (did Sicario and LOVED it) is at the helm.

This film is better than Contact was but I have to admit, I was underwhelmed.  The ending was different than expected but not enough for me to pull a 180 on this film.  Just like Seinfeld, a lot of people found this to be fantastic and I’m just not with it.  You’ve seen the same plot before: aliens land on Earth, humans attempt to make contact, humans make headway, another nation wants to attack the aliens because they don’t want to wait for first strike, conflict arises, will the aliens destroy humanity or do we take them out first?

This film is alright, save your 15 bucks and watch at home.  6/10

mike_and_dave_need_wedding_dates

 

Trivia question: What do you a comedy that isn’t funny?  Answer: a Wes Anderson film.  BOOM!  Taking no prisoners, that’s for goddamn sure!  “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is loosely based on the true story of 2 brothers who were told by their parents to bring wedding dates to their sister’s wedding in Hawaii after countless family gathering were ruined by the boys.  Zac Efron stars as one of the brothers who needs to make sure his shirt is off in at least 73% of the scene.  Anna Kendrick co-stars as a scorned bride who was left at the alter who makes it her life’s work to get on that free trip to Hawaii.  I did notice Stephanie Faracy (the mom in Great Outdoors) plays the boys’ mom and between plastic surgery and aging, Father Time has given her a vicious right uppercut to her work calendar.

When this preview came out, I said, “This COULD be that summer R-rated comedy of the year.”  And I wasn’t enamored by the preview and the reviews were as kind as a 24″ inch waist is to Rebel Wilson.  So, I watched it for free with the free (cable company which doesn’t sponsor me) points I’ve accrued.  You know a film is bad when you turn it off after 45 minutes AND YOU GOT IT FOR FREE.  I think I semi-chuckled twice, which is double the times I laughed at “Napoleon Dynamite” or any other Jack Black comedy.  Nothing gets me like a solid R-rated comedy but when the punchlines are softer than any Drake song, you lost me.  This film is dogshit and I was SHOCKED that it actually turned a profit. Anna Kendrick has a weird face and it’s funny to see her attempting to be sexy.  She’s perfect as Clooney’s protege in, “Up in the Air” and from what I saw while changing the channel, good in those, “Pitch Perfect” films.  Raunchy comedy, not her bag.  

I’d rather watch teens play in a video game tournament that finish watching this film.  2/10

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The first Jason Bourne film, solid.  The second, not so much.  The third, fantastic rebound and my favorite of the trilogy.  So when I read that Paul Greengrass (director of the 1st and 3rd films) was coming back to do the 4th Bourne and this time, I penciled this in to see in the theater.  Matt Damon reprises his title role, and we can wipe our memory banks clean of Jeremy Renner?  Cool, I’m in.  What scenes do you see over and over in the preview?  Damon dropping a dude with one punch and then yet another insane chase scene, this time on the Vegas strip.  Again, I’m in.

And then the reviews came in: nothing positive and pretty much all of them saying this was a hybrid of all 3 Damon films with no real original aspects of it.  So I didn’t see this in the theater as most of my friends confirmed these reviews.  I was going to see this and Suicide Squad in the same day and I’m glad I laid this hand down.  It’s the same recipe as all of the other films.  Hell, I think I can direct the next Bourne film.  Have an older white guy in a communications room, barking out orders to SWAT teams who are trying to locate Bourne for about 60% of the film.  The next 30% would be chase scenes mixed with a few hand-hand combat scenes.  The last 10% would be him trying yet again, to unearth even more backstory about how and why he was recruited to be an assassin. Give me 5 million bucks and the catalog rights to Moby’s, “Extreme Ways” so I can do the 234235th remix of that song and I’ll see you next summer with a 2 hour film that hopefully makes its money back.  

I again, used points from (cable company not paying to advertise with me) and didn’t pay a dollar for this film.  I wasn’t thrilled at all but hey, at least I made it all the way, unlike “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.” The Vegas chase scene does carry on a little too long.  The plot is murky and we’re again trying to figure out his character’s as well as his dad’s history with the Treadstone.  You end up not caring about this story about 20 minutes it.  “Bourne Ultimatum” did a fantastic job of wrapping up loose ends and answering all questions.  Greengrass should’ve ended on that high note cause this note cracks and falls flat. 

I’d rather watch all of the trailers for Rogue 1 (review next week) on an endless loop than watch this again.  4.5/10